~ by Bob Volpe ~
Based on last year’s anemic 5-11 season, the Broncos had some gaping holes to fill for the 2018 season.
The poor performance was a system-wide failure. Special teams, offense, defense, and coaching all stunk up the field.
Granted all three phases suffered injuries that contributed to the poor record. Add in the losses to free agency of Bennie Fowler, CJ Anderson, Aqib Talib, and Cody Latimer and the holes get deeper. That being said, let’s look at how the draft and free agency addressed the holes on offense, defense, and special teams.
Top Draft Picks
With the first pick of the 2018 draft, the Broncos picked Bradley Chubb, linebacker out of North Carolina State. Chubb was ranked the best defensive player of the draft. Chubb is a 6’4” 276 pound beast of a human, but he has the moves and speed of a smaller linebacker.
Nobody expected Chubb to be available at the number five pick, but a surprise move by the Cleveland Browns left Chubb standing on the board when the Browns took safety Denzel Ward with the fourth pick. The move by Cleveland even caught Broncos General Manager John Elway by surprise. Elway was in the process of trading down in the draft from 5 to 12 with the Buffalo Bills for two second round picks when Cleveland picked Ward. Elway immediately canceled the trade and took Chubb.
Poor Cleveland, they blew it big time AGAIN.
So, does Chubb fill a hole? Yes and no. The Broncos already have Von Miller, Shane Ray, and Shaq Barrett as outside linebackers. Ray’s is entering his 5th year and is expected to get a big raise if the Broncos keep him. He was injured for most of last season which kept him sidelined. Ray may be trade bait in the next few weeks.
With the talent Chubb has, he and Miller are going to raise havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Pity the poor QB facing a third and long with these two freight trains coming at him. This alone is reason enough to have him on the roster. Chubb has the stuff to be a Demarcus Ware quality pass rusher.
The Broncos next pick was the 40th overall, eighth in the second round.
They picked wide receiver Courtland Sutton out of SMU. Sutton is a big dude at 6’4” and 216. Sutton started his college ball as a safety, but moved to wide receiver. He’s still learning the position, but will likely start immediately on special teams, replacing Bennie Fowler.
With their third pick, the Broncos picked Royce Freeman, running back out of Oregon. Freeman is 5’11” and 238 pounds. He is the same size and type of back as CJ Anderson. He even looks a little like CJ.
Whether he can fill CJ’s shoes is questionable. His speed is a plus, but he lacks blocking ability and tends to get slowed down by arm tackles.
Rounds 3 and 4 are when things got interesting.
With their third round pick, the Broncos took cornerback Isaac Yiadom out of Boston College. Yiadom has great speed and will compete for the 4th cornerback position.
The Broncos struck gold in the 4th round picking linebacker Josey Jewell from Iowa and Daesean Hamilton, wide receiver out of Penn State. Both of these guys were expected to go much higher in the draft.
In the 5th round the Broncs beefed up the tight end position picking Troy Fumagalli out of Wisconsin.
This guy is a baller. He’ll add much needed depth to the tight end corps and will likely be a starter by
It took until the 6th round for the Broncos to pick an offensive lineman. They chose Sam Jones out of Arizona State. He plays both center and guard and will add to the O line depth.
In the 6th round the Broncos added another linebacker. Keishawn Bierria from Washington. Bierria will be a good addition to special teams.
With their final pick in the 2018 draft the Broncos took another running back in the 7th round. Dave Williams out of Arkansas will add depth to the running back position and will add another body to special teams.
Broncos Free Agency Acquisitions
The Broncos snatched punter Marquette King from the Raiders. King is arguably the best punter the NFL right now. Does he fill a hole? Yup.
Field position just became a huge advantage for the Broncos.
Case Keenum will be the quarterback this year, but everybody who isn’t living under a rock already knew that. Does he fill a hole? Yup. Can’t be worse than Siemian and Lynch.
Speaking of Keenum, how about that biggest hole in the Bronco offense, the O line? The Broncos traded a 6th round pick with the Arizona Cardinals to pick up offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Veldheer is a nine-year veteran. Whether he makes a difference, remains to be seen. He is getting long in the tooth and has injury issues.
Other notable pick ups in free agency include safety Su’a Cravens, corner back Tramaine Block.
Is all this going to get the Broncos back to the playoffs? Maybe. Last year a big part of the problem with the O line was the injuries and shuffling players around to positions they aren’t used to. Bolles is entering his second year and should be better at left
tackle. Leary will start at left guard, Paradis is back and solid at center, Conner McGovern will be at right guard and Veldheeer will be right tackle.
Another plus for the Broncos is the rookies that were red shirted last year or who didn’t get much playing time. Jake Butts at tight end may be the best of last years red shirts that missed the season last year.
Carlos Henderson, Isaiah McKenzie, DeAngelo Henderson, and Demarcus Walker are wild cards. Don’t forget Mr. Irrelevant Chad “Swag” Kelly.
He could make the quarterback competition interesting this year.